The United States is often split into different regions. However, the lines between these regions can sometimes be blurry. Some states exhibit traits of two different regions.
Determining the Midwestern state most similar to the South requires considering a variety of different factors. One way to answer this complex question is by analyzing the data from the State Similarity Index. The index attempts to quantify how similar American states are to each other relative to other states, using a variety of statistics from five broad categories: demographics, culture, politics, infrastructure, and geography.
An analysis of the data clearly shows that Missouri is Midwestern state most similar to the South. On the other end of the spectrum, the data shows that North Dakota, followed by Minnesota, are the least similar.
(Southern states defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia)
Due in large part to its culture and politics, Missouri with has a lot in common with Southern states. Its geography is also more similar to the South than any other Midwestern state.
Missouri’s history mirrors the South in many ways. It is the only state in the Midwest that once allowed slavery. Public schools in Missouri were racially segregated by law, with separate facilities and unequal resources for African American students compared to white students. Furthermore, the state had banned interracial marriage until it was ruled unconstitutional in 1967, unlike all other Midwestern states.
Furthermore, the South is the most religious region in the United States. Missouri is the most religious state in the Midwest by a number of different measures. It also has a higher percentage of Protestants than most Midwestern states. However, Missouri also has the highest homicide rate in the region. The Southern region has the highest rate of murder in the United States.
In certain areas of Missouri, particularly in the southern part of the state and in the Ozarks region, you can find accents and speech patterns that are more characteristic of the Southern states than the Midwestern states. The cultural traditions in southern Missouri and the Ozarks also align with some Southern customs. For example, there is a strong tradition of bluegrass and country music in these regions, similar to the musical traditions of the South.
Missouri is one of the more conservative states in the country. A Democratic presidential candidate has not won the state in over 20 years. Furthermore, its elected representatives at the state and congressional level, are often from the Republican Party. Support for traditional family values also plays a role in shaping the state’s conservative politics.
Like most Southern states, Missouri does not have a statewide ban on smoking in all public places. Furthermore, it has many restrictions on abortion, but few restrictions on guns. The state has also implemented many tax cuts, including reductions in corporate income taxes and personal income taxes. These tax policies are often favored by conservatives who advocate for lower taxes and limited government.
Missouri’s bootheel is literally the most southern point in Midwestern states. As a result, parts of the state have a warmer climate than the rest of the region. Furthermore, the Midwest is known for having a lot of flat land. In contrast, southern Missouri is very mountainous, since the Ozark Mountains are located there. Both Missouri and the Southern region have a diverse mix of forests and farmlands as well.